When most people think of ‘afternoon tea,’ the traditions and quaint tea-rooms of England pop to mind. However, there is another, more seductive version of this elegant mid-afternoon break – the French salon de thé. In France tea is très chic. From great food emporiums, to the most venerable cafés, tea is served every afternoon. Imagine yourself enjoying your favourite cuppa in the elegant surroundings of Angelina’s or Fauchon, even Marcel Proust’s epic In Search of Lost Time was triggered dipping a madeleine into a cup of tea.
For the past six years, long before afternoon tea took off as the popular respite it has currently become in Vancouver, Provence Marinaside and Provence Mediterranean Grill have been serving Parisian-style Grand Thé. Like all good things, Le Grand Thé evolves and changes over time. Available from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Le Grand Thé includes an assortment of both savoury and sweet selections plus tea or freshly brewed drip coffee for only $20. Those seeking a truly French experience may wish to include a glass of Kir Royale or bubbly – priced by the glass starting from $7.00.
The only decision you have to make is what kind of tea you prefer. Provence’s list includes an assortment of eight premium organic and flavoured teas. You may opt for traditional Organic English Breakfast or Organic Earl Grey or decide to be daring with Organic African Nectar or perhaps choose a soothing Marrakech Mint or Camomile Citrus. If tea is not your thing, then Provence always has a pot of fresh-brewed drip-coffee on the go.
Once your beverage is chosen, it comes accompanied by a two-tiered stand laden with palate-pleasing French-style nibbles. The savoury selection includes: Sweet Bell Pepper Marmalade Crostini, Smoked Salmon Profiteroles, Prawn and Cucumber Canapé, Tomato and Bocconcini Brochette with Balsamic Drizzle plus a mini Fig and Prosciutto Quiche. The lower level includes the sweet temptations: Madeleines (lemony and oh so Proustian), Parisian macarons (not to be confused with coconut macaroons. These are the heavenly French confection of flavoured pastry crème sandwiched between pillows of meringue. One bite and they become an addiction!), Orange Lavender Shortbread (very Provençal), a Chocolate Truffle Square and the ‘pièce de résistance’ – a tiny, perfect Petite Tarte au Citron. A small pot of crème fraîche and Bonne Maman preserves complete the extravagance
Provence also offers a selection of separately priced espresso drinks and luxurious hot chocolate for those who prefer beverages other than tea or drip-coffee.
The next time you are feeling over-scheduled and harried, take time to indulge in Le Grande Thé. You’ll leave restored and ready to face the world again. C’est une bonne idée, n’est-ce pas?
Provence Mediterranean Grill (Point Grey) 4473 West 10th Ave., 604.222.1980
Provence Marinaside (Yaletown) 1177 Marinaside Crescent at the foot of Davie St., 604.681.4144
Sweet Bell Pepper Marmalade Crostini
Smoked Salmon Profiteroles
Prawn & Cucumber Canapé
Tomato & Bocconcini Brochette
Fig & Prosciutto Quiche
Orange Lavender Shortbread
Chocolate Truffle Square
Crème Fraiche & Bonne Maman Preserves
Organic Earl Grey
Organic African Nectar
Tropical Green Tea
Brewed Drip Coffee
$20.00 per person
includes tea or freshly brewed coffee
Bubbly -By the glass
Kir Royale 7.00
Brut Gold Label NV Blue Mountain Okanagan B.C. $10.00
De Venoge Brut Cordon Bleu Sélect France $20.00